The Feast of Christ the King

In the Western liturgical calendar we find the feast of “Christ the King” (often changed to conform to the draconian canons of political correctness as “The Reign of Christ”). Someone once asked me if we Orthodox kept such a feast, and I answered, “Yes, we do. It is called ‘Palm Sunday’”. On the first Palm Sunday, Christ entered Jerusalem in triumph and was hailed by the multitudes as the coming Messiah. In…

Altar Girls

Most Orthodox churches of my acquaintance in North America are served by “altar boys”—that is, by boys of pre-pubescent or adolescent age, vested in a sticharion robe and helping the priest by holding a candle, fetching the censer, and otherwise assisting him in the performance of the Divine Liturgy and the other church services. Sometimes this office is fulfilled by grown men, often of advanced age. Sometimes such men have been ordained…

Remembering Elmer

            I remember Elmer. Elmer was an elephant, whose image adorned the backs of our notebooks when I was in public school, and whose face flew on a flag on our school flagpole. Elmer was “the Safety Elephant” whose rules we were encouraged to always remember (like an elephant, since “elephants never forget”). His rules consisted of such maxims as “LOOK BOTH WAYS before you cross the street” and “KEEP OUT from…

The Elephant in the Ecumenical Room

Especially in advance of the much-anticipated Great and Holy Council scheduled for later this year, there has been much talk about the importance of our ecumenical connections, including the possibility of recognizing the baptisms of all the other Christian churches and denominations. Part of the discussion has revolved around the question of how to receive Christians from such churches who desire to convert to Orthodoxy—do we receive them by baptism, thereby effectively…

Defending the Synodikon

Recently, on the first Sunday of Great Lent, we read the Synodikon in church. Well, actually just a tiny snippet of it, the bit about the legitimacy of icons and that this faith had established the world, and offering a heartfelt “Memory Eternal” for those who had died defending it. We did not read the entire Synodikon, because it is quite long and lists a lot of heresies unrelated to the icons…

Grasping at Straws in the Tower of Academia

In the ongoing debate about universalism or the assertion that eventually everyone will be saved, proponents of universalism have often referred with an almost kind of hushed reverence to a volume written by Dr. Ilaria Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena. Ms. Ramelli’s work runs to 912 pages, and I was anxious to read it for myself. Given that the hardcover is available…